Children cannot afford prolonged disruptions to learning

Statement by Patrizia DiGiovanni UNICEF Representative calling for a much-needed consensus to avoid additional prolonged disruptions to children’s learning

13 April 2022
Boy wearing green blouse sitting in classroom with his hands on his mouth and observing carefully
UNICEF/North Macedonia/Georgiev/2020

Skopje, 13 April 2022 - “UNICEF is following the current dialogue between the Government and Trade Union for Education, Science and Culture and calls for all parties involved to rapidly come to a mutual solution that is child centred and avoids additional prolonged disruptions to children’s learning.

“Like all workers, education professionals have the right to protect their labour rights including through strikes. At the same time, children in North Macedonia cannot afford any additional disruptions to learning. A quick solution that benefits all parties, especially children, must be found.

“North Macedonia has been facing a learning crisis with more than half of all fifteen-year-olds in the country failing to meet basic proficiency levels in reading and maths. In addition to the schools being closed for in person learning for 54 weeks due to the pandemic, this year children already missed out on two weeks of schooling with the delayed start of the school year. With these disruptions, the learning crisis has already further escalated.

“Now more than ever we need to accelerate education reform and the best interests of children must take precedence, so that every child is supported and able to catch up on learning losses. These losses not only have a negative impact on children today, but they will also impact children’s life outcomes and will have an impact on future economic development.

“The dialogue on the important role that education professionals play should be ongoing, and it should be conducted in a wider context of education reform which seeks to ensure that human, financial and other resources are adequately allocated and utilised to ensure quality education for all children, no matter where they live.

“UNICEF is calling for all the involved parties in the negotiations to quickly find much needed consensus so that the country avoids additional prolonged disruptions to children’s learning.  The solution should be in the spirit of the ongoing education reforms and should consider broader structural changes that will allow education professionals to deliver the quality and inclusive education that children are entitled to.”

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